We get a lot of swag here at EW. Some of it rocks. Some of it is literally a rock. (Seriously. Last year, I received an actual rock the size of a baby and the weight of a toddler to promote a movie called Homo Erectus at the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival — which EW doesn’t even cover.) The whole idea, of course, is to goad us into writing about whatever the swag is designed to promote, but because we’re all hardened, upstanding journalists here at this digest of all that is entertainment, we usually just use the stuff to decorate our offices instead. (Yep, still got that rock, so consider your money wisely spent, Homo Erectus PR firm!)

This month, however, I received three boxes stuffed with tie-in toys for three prospective May blockbusters, each more elaborately packaged than the last: Iron Man arrived about three weeks ago; then last week came Speed Racer and, a day later, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. All told, I suddenly had 20 separate items of swag inside my office, and because of the binding Journalism Rule of Three and Twenty, I had to do something other than pick out my favorites and give the rest to the office-mates who, um, have kids.

And so, in the tradition of my Transformers toy review last summer, over the course of this month, I’m going to review each box as its respective movie is released, rating them in categories of packaging, bounty, the coolest toy, the lamest toy, and the general feeling of swag overkill. So join me, won’t you, after the jump, for a rundown of our first toy box: Iron Man.


Packaging: In the following weeks, you’ll see that the toy boxes for Speed Racer and Indiana Jones are all with the sophistimicated presentation, but not so much with the Iron Man box,which was just your standard, you know, box. Of course, mea culpa,since it arrived far earlier than the other two, I had already disposed(in recycling) of the cardboard sleeve printed with the Iron Man logo that surrounded the plain gold-ish box holding all the toys. But, trust me, ‘twern’t nothin’ special.

Bounty: Beyond the two toys detailed below, the box came with three others: Two action-figure Iron Men, the “Iron Man Prototype,” replete with a snap-on chest, arm, shoulders and mask; and the “Iron Man Mark 2,” which included dual arm mounted plastic swizzle-stick missile launchers. And then there’s “Repulsor Power Iron Man,” a foot-tall, fully posable figure that lights up and says “Repulsor blasts!” and “I am Iron Man!” and also shoots a plastic swizzle-stickmissile. Its most intriguing feature: Flip a switch in the back, andwhen you lift this Iron Man off your table, a switch in the heel causesthe red dude to sound as if he’s taking off, and then as if he’s inflight. If you cause him to dive suddenly, he sounds like he’s swervingin mid-air; place him back on the table, and he’ll sound like he’slanding. This was cool for the first 30 seconds, until I realized itkept me from making my own take-off (“fpheerrrrchoooooooo“), swerving (“zeeerrrrrraaoooww”) and landing (“voooooommnnn-nnn-nnn-whossshhh“) sounds. Which is kinda the whole reason toys exist, right?

Coolest toy: This may be the most awesomest Nerf gun ever. Officially, it’s the “Stark Industries N.R.F. 425 Blaster,”but you can just think of it as a Nerf Uzi, complete with a reloadcartridge. Pump this baby up, and you can fire up to ten suction-cuppedNerf darts at your boss co-worker significant other friend petwall in about one second. It also comes with a removable wall stickerof something called the “Iron Monger” (methinks this is the bad guy,and methinks the fanboys are going to tell me all about him in thecomments below), but I haven’t bothered putting mine up. Instead, Ijust keep it under my desk; if any of my editors dare choose to give meany guff, I feel confident in knowing that I can totally imaginepulling it out and shooting them, and it’s made me drunk with pretendpower.

Lamest toy: Lame is a relative term here. I could imagine 5-to-9-year-old kids thrilling to the notion of donning this “Iron Man Mask and Repulsor Gauntlet” and shooting up to six “repulsor disks” at their parents friends younger sibling older sibling petpillow. But even though the box tells me that the mask “fits sizes agefive through adult,” I just don’t think I could possibly maintain myjournalistic integrity, let alone my sense of mature self-worth, whilewearing this thing. So, to recap: Posing for a photo holding a Nerf Uzilike you’re the action star of the office is awesome; posing for a photowearing a plastic mask and wrist gun is super lame.

Overall swag overkill factor: While the presentation wasbarely better than a birthday gift from your Uncle Bob, I gotta say,this would’ve been a pretty sweet birthday gift from your Uncle Bob.The Cool-to-Lame ratio is very high, and I’m confident that I’ll haveno difficulty at all handing off the toys I don’t keep to my co-workers. On a scale of 10 swags, where a 1 is an Iron Man pencil and a 10 is the actual Iron Man suit, I’d give this box a solid 7.